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Blogs

Defense knows too much (and other notes)

Posted by Darren Urban on August 6, 2014 – 5:43 pm

The Cardinals’ defense will be good again this season. Just ask the Cardinals’ offense.

“Every day we go on the field is an unbelievable challenge for this offense,” coach Bruce Arians said.

It’s about more than talent, though. The defense not only has players but it has information. It has watched the offense run its plays over and over, in camp and this offseason. It has heard the audibles.

“Because we see so many pressures, blitz period or not, they are going to know our audibles,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “Coach Arians said it (Tuesday), as soon as we audibled one play the whole defense knew what was coming. He just wants to see the audible executed, (even if it is) completely covered and blown up. But you see it in a walkthrough and then in practice, it’s pretty easy to pick up. Once you go in a game, you only use that audible once every three weeks. You understand the situation for what it is. But that stuff does get frustrating.”

Palmer emphasized how much respect he has for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. “You can’t get a bead on what you think is coming,” Palmer said.

Still, it makes success during training camp much, much harder.

“When offense wins a few matches in practice, I am very proud our offense is getting better,” Arians said.

— Maybe that played a part in Wednesday’s practice. At one point during team work, the defense would have come up with a handful of sacks and/or heavy pressures on the passer. Then at the end of the day, when the offense took on the defense — first unit versus first unit, and so on — for an attempt at a mostly length-of-the-field drive, the defense was winning. The first-string offense drove all the way into the red zone, only to have cornerback Antonio Cromartie bring down a beautiful one-handed interception on a fade route to Ted Ginn. The second offense only had a couple of plays before a pass to Jaron Brown was deflected high in the air before linebacker Ernie Sims grabbed the ball. The third offense was successful, eventually scoring a touchdown on a short run by Jonathan Dwyer.

— Darren Fells would seem to have an inside track at a roster spot as the fourth tight end after Jake Ballard’s retirement, but he had his hiccups Wednesday after the news came out, dropping a couple of catchable passes.

— Everybody was out practicing except for DT Darnell Dockett (who was given a rest day by Arians) and center Lyle Sendlein, still out with a calf injury.

— Tyrann Mathieu, on the help he gives rookie safety Deone Bucannon: “I try to tell him what I know. I don’t try to tell him too much because I don’t know everything.”

— Arians said the kicking spot will come down to how the games play out. “All the eggs are in that basket,” he said. “It’ll be a tough decision.” Arians said each kicker will be given a full game to work, starting with Chandler Catanzano against Houston Saturday. Feely will kick in Minnesota the following week.

86CroINTuse

 


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Sorting out keepers on the O-line

Posted by Darren Urban on August 5, 2014 – 12:50 pm

Bruce Arians was short and sweet during his press conference today, which means the news is little and the grind of camp has officially set in. Until games begin to be played, players can start proving themselves on the field against another time and, you know — stuff happens — I’d imagine there won’t be a torrent of news. One thing from today is that guard Jonathan Cooper, tight end Jake Ballard and tackle Nate Potter are all taking the practice off because of sore knees, but all three are expected to practice against Wednesday.

That’ll give Earl Watford a chance to work with the ones all through practice today. He said he’s getting better in cutting down the mental mistakes. How that offensive line filters out will be one of the more intriguing parts of the camp and preseason. Arians usually dressed seven on game days. After the starters, that would mean a swing tackle (Starks?) and a G/C combo (Larsen, probably). So if Cooper starts, does that mean Watford is inactive again? Where does Potter stand, or Bradley Sowell (the latter of whom is probably in trouble roster-wise if Starks proves usable.)

Some of it will have to do with youth and keeping players around if you feel they can develop, as well as the numbers across the rest of the roster. But now that Starks is here, someone is going to be the odd man out. And there could be a couple that end up odd.

— WR John Brown, who has missed three practices with a bad hamstring, will be back out at practice.

— Arians is very happy with the way rookie safety Deone Bucannon is playing at dollar linebacker, which is his spot in the nickel defense.

— There is still a chance the Cardinals could keep five running backs on the roster, depending on special teams. That would seem to open a possible spot for Jalen Parmele. The first four of Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor, Jonathan Dwyer and Robert Hughes looks more and more solid.

 


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The first depth chart

Posted by Darren Urban on August 4, 2014 – 3:55 pm

The Cardinals released their first depth chart today. There are no real surprises. Newcomer Max Starks is ahead of Bradley Sowell for second-unit right tackle. John Abraham is still listed as a starter. Tony Jefferson is the starter at strong safety over Deone Bucannon. Ryan Lindley is third-team QB over Logan Thomas. But again, these battles are ongoing and we all know, for instance, Thomas and Lindley are essentially fighting for one spot that is basically even right now.

With this being so early in camp, my guess is not a lot will change on the chart. It’s meaning increases once we get to the regular season. Regardless, here is the whole thing:

Microsoft Word - AZ Depth Chart-2014


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Impressing the boss and many B.A. notes

Posted by Darren Urban on August 4, 2014 – 12:25 pm

When the pads go on and the tackling starts, players can make an impact. Two young guys who did that during the Fan Fest work were tight end Darren Fells and undrafted rookie defensive tackle Bruce Gaston. Arians mentioned both by name Monday as having caught his eye Saturday, and there is nothing better than having your coach call you out in a good way during a press conference. That’s twice for Fells in a week, too. And as you know, three times is the charm.

(Actually, it will be really interesting to see what happens with Fells and the other tight ends. The Cardinals aren’t keeping five. Fells could go back to practice squad, but would he clear waivers? Would the Cardinals look at a trade? A lot of camp to go so maybe Fells’ star fades, but it’s an intriguing situation.”

Arians also mentioned Robert Hughes and Jonathan Dwyer, and again, those two look like the natural backs to join Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor on the 53 in early September.

Gaston also creates a dilemma if he indeed stays in contention for the roster. “He was blowing up some blockers and made a name for himself in that scrimmage.” Figure the Cardinals will keep six defensive linemen. Dockett, Campbell, Dan Williams and the two rookies Martin and Stinson seem like locks. Alameda Ta’amu might be on PUP, but what about Frostee Rucker, who also seems like a lock? Would the Cardinals keep seven defensive linemen?

— One of the reasons left guard Jonathan Cooper has struggled is going against defensive end Calais Campbell, who has played at a Pro Bowl level the last couple of years.

“Coop is getting there. He’s still a rookie,” Campbell said. “I don’t feel bad beating him. I mean I kind of do a little bit but I know I have to go hard against him so he can be football-ready because the first game he’ll have to step up and play big for us.

“Me and Coop are great friends. You don’t want to make him look bad in theory. But it is best for the team for me to go strong, and get him game-ready. We’ve had some good battles.”

Arians said Cooper responded well Saturday to his “disappointed” comments.

— WR John Brown (hamstring) will miss practice again today.

— Arians said he expects everyone to play Saturday against Houston, barring injury. He does hope Brown is back and playing. Starters will go about 15 plays.

— Arians update on the return of absent linebacker John Abraham. “I would hope next week,” he said. Added that with Abraham’s experience, missing a couple weeks of camp was not a big deal.

— Logan Thomas will be the third QB against Houston and play most of the fourth quarter. Ryan Lindley will get that chance the following game in Minnesota.

— Reminder that today’s practice is closed to the public. That gives Arians a chance to see how his team responds. There were an announced 23,000 at the Fan Fest scrimmage Saturday, which provided energy as a backdrop to what Arians called the best practice of camp. “It should be with 20-some thousand people,” Arians said. “It should get the juice flowing. Look forward to what it will be with nobody in there. It’s got to be the same kind.”

 

 


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A week at camp, and closed practice Monday

Posted by Darren Urban on August 3, 2014 – 5:03 pm

The Cardinals are off today. They will practice Monday, but that practice will not be open to the public. The open workouts resume Tuesday. As always, the entire camp schedule can be seen right here.

Finally, a game week has arrived. The Cardinals open the preseason Saturday night at home against the Texans. Bruce Arians said there will be no game planning, no watching of any Houston video (not that it would matter, since the Texans have changed coaches since last year.) This is where the NFL season really becomes the NFL season, with the ebb and flow of a few days of practice before a game every weekend.

— Yes, it caused a stir when Bruce Arians said Jonathan Cooper has to play better. Like most coaches, Arians has a purpose to what he says. Sometimes he’s trying to show confidence in his guys. And sometimes, he’s trying to light a fire under them. Cooper is going to get his chances though. He’s the seventh overall pick. The leash is naturally longer. That said, you know Arians won’t hesitate to make a change. That is a threat that can be understood.

— The only downside of being embedded with Aeneas Williams over the weekend was missing Fan Fest and the goalline drill. One thing that has struck me watching those highlights and practice over the first week —  I will be surprised if running back (fullback?) Robert Hughes doesn’t make this roster.

— If you missed the story of Williams’ induction night in Canton, check it out here.


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“Little disappointed” in Cooper

Posted by Darren Urban on August 2, 2014 – 11:41 am

Bruce Arians isn’t exactly sparse with praise. He’ll hand it out when he deems it necessary, but it’s not like pulling teeth like some coaches. So you hear him talk about guard Jonathan Cooper and it raises a flag. Arians said Cooper needs to raise his level of play. “I’m a little disappointed with where Coop is at right now,” Arians said. “I’d hope he come a little faster.”

Now, Arians does say it’s because Cooper is rusty. Cooper missed all of last season with his broken leg. But he needs to start playing better. Arians also said he wants Earl Watford — who must play both guard spots to be able to dress Sundays — to be able to push Cooper. Given that Cooper was the seventh overall pick last year, that’s a very big deal. The Cardinals need Cooper to play and play well. Sooner rather than later.

— WR John Brown will sit out today’s Fan Fest practice to rest the bad hamstring. No reason to push it.

— There will be some live tackling in today’s practice. It’ll be the only live tackling of training camp.

— QB Carson Palmer was talking nicknames. He said Jared Veldheer’s nickname in Oakland was “The Big Serious.” And he mentioned Brown’s nickname “Smoke” or “Smokey” — which he already had when he arrived in Arizona — has to do with the trail he leaves in his wake after making a catch.


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A day off, camp observations and tidbits

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2014 – 2:59 pm

The Cardinals got a day off today from practice before doing two more workouts Friday and Saturday, which is the Fan Fest workout. After slamming into each other for three straight days, it’s good to get a reprieve. And to think, with practice just across town at University of Phoenix Stadium, it’s easy to pop home for the day. I know I appreciate it.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “Get your mind away from football for a day. Guys who have family can spend time with their young ones, like myself. Just rest our bodies and come back to work the next day.”

— Speaking of Fan Fest, click here for all the details of the practice.

— What stood out through the first five days of practice? WR John Brown, obviously. Confidence in CB Justin Bethel’s progress. Thinking that TE John Carlson, if he can stay off the injury report, could have a very nice year catching the ball. Kareem Martin is going to have a key role on the defensive line, I think. Michael Floyd is destined to improve on his season a year ago.

— I’m off to Canton tomorrow to cover the induction of cornerback Aeneas Williams into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. I’ll still have stuff on the blog from both Canton and training camp, and my cohort Kyle Odegard will be the boots on the ground at University of Phoenix Stadium. He did a nice piece on Bobby Massie today. Speaking of Aeneas, I hope you’ve been checking out all the content on the special Aeneas Williams page (azcardinals.com/aeneas). I’ll have a big story on Williams posted tomorrow first thing.


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Arians talks Peterson

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2014 – 12:45 pm

Not a lot newsy out of Bruce Arians’ presser today. Patrick Peterson’s contract and press conference is dominating (and I’ll have that story in a bit). One Peterson thing to pass along from Arians however. He was talking about Peterson’s abilities, and the stats, and B.A. has already made it clear how he doesn’t see how outsiders can truly judge Peterson’s play. He noted how he was watching the Calvin Johnson TD catch from the Lions-Cards game last year, and how whoever was on TV was blaming Peterson for the play.

“There was a pass he gets blamed for, and they are saying lazy technique,” Arians said. “It was zone coverage and the inside guy should have picked it off. Karlos (let it go) through his hands. It’s not his man. The people who watch those things and stat them, they don’t know what we are asking him to do.”

Not that it matters. The Cardinals paid Peterson and they and Peterson himself believe in what he is.

Arians called him the “perfect citizen.” He also said that while the contract situation would not have affected Peterson, he was happy to avoid the distraction through the media had it not been done.

— Arians said there was nothing new on the injury front. LB Lorenzo Alexander will skip practice today in a move that was scheduled. RB Andre Ellington and DT Dan Williams are both expected back at practice Friday.

— Tight end Darren Fells “got my attention for the first time” in Tuesday’s practice, Arians said, especially with his blocking.

 

 


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Patrick Peterson vs Richard Sherman continues

Posted by since1898 on July 30, 2014 – 9:08 am

 

BACK TO #since1898


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Sendlein out three weeks and Abraham arrest

Posted by Darren Urban on July 29, 2014 – 12:29 pm

The Cardinals collected a handful of injuries on their first day of padded practice, the most serious of which is the left calf injury to starting center Lyle Sendlein that will sideline Sendlein for three weeks, coach Bruce Arians said. In his place, Ted Larsen will play center. It’s not a huge deal, since Sendlein will return in camp and is experienced enough to overcome missing practice.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is also expected to miss four or five days with a pectoral injury, while running back Andre Ellington (neck) will miss Tuesday’s work. Also hurting are linebacker Ernie Sims (back spasms), nose tackle Christian Topou (groin) and cornerback Todd Washington (groin). The Topou injury is interesting because fellow nose tackles Dan Williams (knee) and Alameda Ta’amu (PUP – knee) are already sitting. All hands on deck, Arians said, which means some mixing and matching on the defensive line.

— The news came out that linebacker John Abraham, who has been absent from training camp thus far, was arrested for a DUI in Georgia in late June. Arians had no comment, other than to say he knew of the arrest and was actually in Georgia at the same time. Arians also had no comment when asked if the arrest had anything to do with Abraham’s absence, and said he does not know when Abraham will show up to camp. Given Abraham’s experience, missing some training camp isn’t the worst thing in the world. But he barely was on the field all of the offseason too, and the sack production on the roster beyond him is extremely limited. His situation will be important to watch as the days pass.

— Arians said LB Sam Acho had a good day in his first padded practice with a couple of forced fumbles and with his pass rush, a big deal given the Abraham circumstances.

— The kicking rotation will remain with two guys going in a day and the third resting. As for Arians’ evaluation so far, “Cat (Chandler Catanzaro) has been perfect, that’s the only impression I can gather from it. The rest of the guys haven’t been. The numbers don’t lie.” As for the eventual decision, “We’ll see how they do in games. Practices are one thing, games are another. I’ve seen Jay in games for 12 years so I don’t need to see Jay in a lot of games. I know he’s got nerves. The other two guys, you want to see them do it in front of the crowd.”

— Former Cardinals tackle Eric Winston finally found a team Tuesday, signing with the Seahawks.


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